Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Buwch Goch Gota

Buwch Goch Gota

Lyric sheet for the traditional nursery rhyme Buwch Goch Gota - Ladybird. Or, translated literally, 'little red cow'. Yeah...

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Welsh Language / Iaith Cymraeg

Monday, 20 January 2020

Mini Mart: Small Wonders Miniatures

Small Wonders Artisan Miniatures

Supplier: Small Wonders Miniatures
Website: smallwondersminiatures.co.uk

Small Wonders specialises in handcrafted 1/12 miniatures from UK and US artisans. I've always wanted to place an order with them - it was just a case of showing restraint and picking a few items! After much deliberating, I bought the cutest little child's wellies (£3.50) and some amazing turned wood miniatures.

I didn't order too much because it's really hard to judge scale until you have something in hand. (I mean, you know it's 1/12 scale, but how it will fit with the figures and other accessories you're using.) I needn't have worried though - just look at that tiny cotton reel! (50p) My favourite purchase has to be the little gavel (£3.50).

Small Wonders Miniatures

Anthony recently donated a gavel to the community council with a little plaque and literally every time I think about it I laugh. (I don't even know what it is - the randomness, the pretentiousness of the plaque, all of it.) I'm chuckling right now! But, anyway, back to the miniatures. I'm going to dig out my metallic markers and draw on a tiny rectangular plaque, so I can laugh every time I see this one too. :)

Post and Packing: Starting from £3.50, according to value of order.

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Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Sunday, 19 January 2020

This Week - 19/01/2020

However long the night, the dawn will break.

It's been a fairly quiet week, really. I forgot to take my tablets on Sunday night and, wow, I won't be making that mistake again. I was so sick on Monday. Luckily it had mostly worn off by the time I had to go to Children and Young People scrutiny pre-agenda on Tuesday.

The actual meeting was on Wednesday morning - you can watch the recording on the webcast archive. We looked at our LAC (looked after children) numbers and mitigation measures; Welsh Government have asked authorities to set targets to bring the numbers down, but Torfaen and a few others declined. I think it comes from a good place, but I don't think setting targets is the best way to go about it. Keeping kids safe is really not something you want to slap a quota on!

On Thursday there was a budget scrutiny meeting, looking at the money saving measures proposed by the various service areas. I didn't have any work on Friday so I spent the day doing some preliminary research on Daniel Morgan. He was a Scotland Yard detective involved in lots of the big Victorian cases, but began his working life in Cwmbran Tinworks. :) After school I took Marianna into town to go to the library and spend the £10 Claire's voucher I won the other day.

Saturday I spent most of the day listing more stuff on eBay. If you're looking for Re-ment and Megahouse miniatures, check out my listings HERE.

Deal of the Week -

Get 20% off at Fiver promo code referral link http://www.fiverr.com/s2/289058bd70

On the blog I wrote about Kid Inventors' Day, National Pothole Day, my top hits of 2015, and a guide to the Capsule Chix dolls. I also did a collaborative post on call centre waiting times and one about the reply Marianna received from her Christmas card to the Queen.

Song of the Week -

Hollywood -  Marina and the Diamonds

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Royal Correspondence

Royal Correspondence

Did you know that anyone can write to the Queen? And that if you do, you'll get a reply back from her. Well, not her personally, but one of her ladies-in-waiting. Apparently the Queen does get shown the majority of the post she receives each day, especially letters and pictures from children, and then her staff get to work answering them all, sometimes incorporating her personal comments.

Back in November, Marianna decided she wanted to send a Christmas card to the Queen and - more importantly - the corgis! Actually there are only the two dorgis (corgi / dachshund crosses) left now, called Vulcan and Candy. So Marianna drew a picture of the Queen walking them, in full royal regalia (and upside down), of course, and wrote a little note to say Merry Christmas.

christmas message

I stuck in a label with Marianna's name, age, and address because even with the best will in the world reception handwriting is, er, difficult to decipher! Then we just had to wait a few weeks before a letter landed on the mat with a very regal looking crest on it. Marianna was so excited to get home from school and find a letter addressed to her.

Letter from the palaceLetter from Sandringham

The reply came from Sandringham House and was written by one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, Jennifer Gordon-Lennox. It's a really sweet keepsake to put in Marianna's reception year memory folder, and - along with the Royal Mail reply from Santa - has been really helpful in explaining to Marianna how the postal system works. Marianna was so pleased with it she even took it into school to show her teacher. :)

Reply from the Queen

Definitely worth the price of a stamp!

If you fancy getting your own royal reply, send a letter to:

Her Majesty The Queen
Buckingham Palace
London SW1A 1AA

In fact, you can write to Royals of all varieties. There are even websites devoted to the hobby of collecting royal responses. Check out the blogs Gert's Royals and Writing to Royals for some more inspiration.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Five Kids' Inventions

Friday Five

Today is Kid Inventors' Day, celebrating the accomplishments of kid inventors. So, in honour of the day, here are five things you probably didn't know were invented by children...

#5. Trampoline

Gymnast George Nissen was 16 when he came up with the idea of the trampoline. He built the first prototype in 1934, aged 20, and by the 1940s they were in mass production. In 2000 Nissen, then 86, got to see a dream come true at the Sydney Summer Olympics when trampolining was included in the Games for the first time.


#4. Glo-Sheet

Becky Shroeder was just 12 when she invented the Glo-Sheet, aka a phosphorescent sheet which you put under paper, enabling you to read and take notes in the dark. The patent made her the youngest female inventor in US history, and the device was sold to everyone from toy stores to NASA.


#3. Earmuffs

Chester Greenwood was 15 when he came up with the idea for earmuffs. By 19 he had a factory to manufacture them, an industry that would go on to employ over 60 people for decades. Greenwood actually invented a whole bunch of stuff, usually improvements on existing ideas, and in 1977 the state of Maine declared December 21st would henceforth be Chester Greenwood Day. His hometown of Farmington celebrate it with a full blown parade on the first Saturday of each December.


#2. Braille

Louis Braille was just five when he lost the sight in both eyes, the result of an accident followed by infection. Determined not to let it affect his studies, Braille worked on improving and adapting the touch reading systems developed by Haüy and the French military. By 15 the first version of Braille was complete, and Louis would spend the next few decades simply refining the system.


#1. Thermoelectric Flashlight

Ann Makosinski is a Canadian inventor specialising in alternative power sources. At 14 she invented a flashlight powered by the heat of a human hand, and followed it up with the eDrink mug which can charge a phone using the heat from a hot drink. Expect to hear of more from her in the years to come!

Thermoelectric Flashlight

Have I missed out any cool inventions? Let me know in the comments! :)

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Friday Five

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Hits of 2015

What I'm Listening To

For 2020 I figured I'd turn this monthly post into a top ten of songs from a particular year. January's date comes courtesy of Marianna who said 'the year I was born'. 2015 it is then!

Downtown - Donkeyboy

Yeah, I know, I'm predictable. I discover a band keeping synthpop alive and I'll stay loyal forever. ♥️ Donkeyboy rarely release their stuff outside of Norway and Downtown was no exception, peaking at #18 on the VG-lista.

Freak of the Week - Krept and Konan ft. Jeremiah

I've always loved a bit of (in the words of the inimitable Dr. Syntax) watered down grime pop. Freak of the Week peaked at #9 on the UK charts.

Lean On - Major Lazer & DJ Snake ft. MØ  

I first came across MØ in 2013, when Pilgrim was in the Danish top 20. I heard it and was like, yes, this is gonna be huge. (Spoiler Alert: it wasn't.) Her voice is so distinctive I knew it had to be her as soon as Lean On started getting airplay everywhere. 2015 was a much better year, chart wise. Lean On peaked at #2 in the UK but made #1 in Denmark, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.

See You Again - Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

Commissioned for the [Fast and] Furious 7 soundtrack as a tribute to Paul Walker, See You Again punches above its weight and is actually quite a beautiful song.

Sun Is Shining - Axwell Λ Ingrosso

Sun Is Shining peaked at a disappointing #56 in the UK, but it made top ten in Belgium, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Sweden.

The Nights - Avicii 

Peaking at #6 in the UK, The Nights now feels kind of weirdly prophetic to listen to with lines like: "One day you'll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember." RIP Avicii.

Hotline Bling - Drake

A legend in its own lunchtime.

Six Feet - Patent Pending

Patent Pending deserve to be in the major league. Their tracks are always so well put together, with clever lyrics and tight editing. 2015's Six Feet is typical - catchy, deceptively deep, and horrifically underplayed. Here's to hoping they get their moment in the sun!

Sorry - Justin Bieber

I never thought I'd be listing Justin Bieber in a top ten best anything. Then Sorry came out and I was a Belieber. (Not sorry.)

SHUT UP + DANCE - Walk The Moon

I think it's really fitting that Marianna's favourite song should have been a hit in 2015! SHUT UP + DANCE was released in the US in autumn 2014 and went on to take the world by storm. Seriously, it made top 20 everywhere from Japan to Mexico. It also introduced me to Walk The Moon who quickly became one of my all time favourite bands; there's not a dud among their back catalogue.

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What I'm Listening To

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

National Pothole Day

National Pothole Day

January 15th is National Pothole Day, a tongue in cheek celebration designed to raise awareness of the UK's ever growing pothole problem.

How do potholes form?

Potholes aren't just an eyesore either. They wreck havoc on vehicle suspension and can even lead to accidents - and worse. Between 2007 and 2016, 22 cyclists died and another 368 were injured because of the poor condition of roads. Confused.com put together some stats on the financial impact of potholes which make for some rather sobering reading:

pothole financial impact

The real answer to potholes, frankly, is a reduction in road traffic. As that seems unlikely any time soon, the next best thing is a change in road construction. Plastic tar in place of asphalt, for example, has shown good results in preventing pothole formation. But, because nothing is that simple, it has also been proven to leach, especially during heavy rainfall. More trials are needed on that front!

In the meantime, don't just ignore the problem. If you see a pothole, report it the highway authority. This Is Money found that Torfaen was one of the best councils when it came to filling reported potholes last years, something I can certainly attest to as someone who regularly reports them.

All you need to do is email the pothole location to calltorfaen@torfaen.gov.uk or use the online form / mobile app, then a highways officer will go out and investigate the state of the road. If they decide to fill the hole it will be sprayed with paint to mark it up ready for work. Once that's done you can expect it to be filled within ten working days. If they are regularly out to do patch jobs, the road will be bumped up the priority list for resurfacing, so reporting the potholes really is a win-win for local residents.

There are guidelines in place to help determine whether or not to fill, based on the width and depth of the hole, but officers can use their own discretion too. E.g. Two weeks ago I reported a large pothole on my local school route, but when the officer went out they also decided to fill two smaller ones nearby because the heavy use of the road means it was only a matter of time before they met the minimum size requirements.

On the negative side, there is one caveat to pothole reporting: your highway authority will only patch roads they are responsible for. Many of the UK's worst roads are actually unadopted, meaning their upkeep is the responsibility of the residents who live along it. As you're looking at £10k+ to resurface a small stretch of private road, it's not really surprising they're a mess. My advice, sadly, is more on prevention when it comes to unadopted roads - make sure you read all the small print when purchasing a house!

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Council Business Explained

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